Archives of environmental contamination and toxicology

Two Decades of Environmental Surveillance in the Vicinity of a Waste Incinerator: Human Health Risks Associated with Metals and PCDD/Fs.

PMID 26054593


The concentrations of polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans (PCDD/Fs), as well as the levels of a number of heavy metals, have been periodically measured in samples of soil and vegetation collected around a municipal solid waste incinerator (MSWI) in Tarragona (Catalonia, Spain) for approximately 20xa0years. Since 2007, the levels of the above-mentioned pollutants have also been determined in air samples by means of either active or passive samplers. In the present study, data regarding the environmental impact of the MSWI, in terms of PCDD/Fs and heavy metals, are updated. The temporal trends of these pollutants were evaluated by comparison with data from previous surveys. In the current survey (2013-2014), mean concentrations of PCDD/Fs in soil, vegetation, and air were 0.63xa0ng I-TEQ/g, 0.07xa0ng I-TEQ/g, and 10.1xa0fg WHO-TEQ/m(3), respectively. Decreases of 47 and 35xa0% of PCDD/Fs in soil and vegetation, respectively, were observed in relation to the background study (1999). Regarding air samples, a slight temporal decrease of the PCDD/F levels was also found with the remaining concentrations staying nearly constant through time. With respect to metals, notable fluctuations in the concentrations were noted, being dependent on each specific environmental monitor. Overall, the current exposure to PCDD/Fs and metals does not mean any additional health risks for the population living near the facility. In conclusion, the results of the present study show that the environmental impact of the Tarragona MSWI is not significant, in terms of PCDD/Fs and heavy metals, after >20xa0years of continuous operation.